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A Comcast vehicle. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Comcast announced today its largest-ever eligibility expansion for Internet Essentials, the cable giant's program that subsidizes basic broadband service and low-cost computers to help increase adoption for low-income households in the cities Comcast serves.

Why it matters: Households living in cities with the highest poverty rates are up to 10 times more likely than those in higher earning communities to not have access to wireline broadband internet service at home.

According to 2017 census data, rich communities like Palo Alto, California, and Bethesda, Maryland, have only 6% of households without wireline broadband subscriptions. But in cities with higher poverty rates like Trenton, New Jersey, and Flint, Michigan, up to 60% of households do not have wired broadband service to their home.

The big picture: Many low-income households rely on smartphones to access the internet, often because it's cheaper than buying the gear and a computer needed for a home connection.

  • Comcast executive David Cohen said on a call with reporters that a smartphone is not adequate for students trying to complete homework or adults trying to create a resume and apply for jobs.

Details: The program, which began 8 years ago with the merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal, will now be open to seniors and people with disabilities. To date, the program has connected more than 8 million low-income individuals from 2 million households, the company says.

Yes, but: The Internet Essentials service, which costs $10 a month, provides download speeds of 15 megabits per second, which is slower than the FCC's benchmark for broadband (25 megabits per second). Cohen argued that speed is "more than sufficient" for most household needs, and he pointed out Comcast has raised the speeds 4 times over the past 8 years.

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February
  2. Vaccines: Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker